Can one living in the world of reality end selfishness?
Is it possible for the stream of selfishness to end?
6th Public Talk, Saanen
July 24, 1975
We said that we would talk about the very complex problem of what is death. I think we should look at this question not as something separate from other factors of life, like suffering, love, fear, pleasure and the chaotic world we live in and the confusion for most people. We shouldn't separate this factor of death from the rest. We should take it, I think, as a whole process, from the beginning of being born to dying, a total, a whole movement of life.
And before we go into that we should also understand, I think, not verbally, but the question also of authority. As the world is becoming more and more confused, more and more disturbed, authoritarian governments are gradually creeping in, in the East and so on. And when a political life is dominated by terrorism, by imprisonment, by all the totalitarian methods of propaganda which breeds fear, one has to be, I think, very much aware of this question, that it does breed a great fear and so for those who live in these countries fear becomes part of their life. And those who are seriously concerned with the whole of life should go into this question of authority. We are so eager to accept authority, the say-so of somebody, intellectual, so-called religious or psychological; so we submit ourselves to their concepts, to their description, to their way of thinking. And specially when we are considering this question of death, we should bear this in mind, that there is no authority whatsoever, including, and specially, of the speaker.
And we also should apprehend, that is, hold, participate in the question of what is creation, which we went into the other day when we last met here. That which has continuity, which is thought, as movement in time - as long as time has no stop, there can possibly be no creation. Time must have a stop to bring about that creative feeling, that creative action. And it is almost very difficult to understand what it means for time to have a stop because we are going into the question of death, which is the ending of time in a totally different way. So we should understand, not intellectually, but feel our way, investigate, whether there is a possibility of time coming to an end. I do not know if you have ever thought about it. Poets have written about it, talked about it. Novelists have said there is an ending to time. But one does not accept all these romantic theoretical suppositions, one wants to find out for oneself, what does it mean for time to end?
We said, thought is movement in time. That time is a bondage in the world of reality. We went into that. And whether time as measure, as movement of thought, can ever possibly end - either consciously or deep down. One may theoretically accept the possibility of time coming to an end consciously. One can work at it, one can imagine, one can almost feel the ending, but the movement in the semi-conscious state, in that dim consciousness, time is part of the structure. Because after all, all our conditioning is a result of time - it may be one day or ten thousand years. We are conditioned in so many ways, influenced through propaganda, influenced by books, by talks, by radio; everything around us is trying to penetrate deeper and deeper and deeper. And the more authoritarian the world becomes, the more penetrating, and the technological penetration of propaganda is becoming more.
So we are the result of all that which is fairly obvious, which we do not have to go into in great detail. You can believe in god, because that is your conditioning. But a communist, he says, 'That's all nonsense', because that's his conditioning. So, we are all conditioned. One can consciously eliminate, if one is at all serious and aware and alert, one can consciously put away all that. That's fairly simple, and not fall into another trap of conditioning. But the unconscious movement - that is, in the deep layers of one's consciousness, deep recesses of one's mind, there is the movement of time; the hope, the events of the past are deeply embedded. And whether that time as a whole, both at the conscious and at the deeper level, can totally come to an end? One can ask this question verbally but to penetrate into that - not intellectually, you can't do this intellectually which is the structure of words, the comprehension of words, the realisation intellectually that words have no significance, but yet be caught in words. And to go into that question of time as coming to an end - because if it does not come to an end there is only variety in continuation, a modified change in continuity, which is time. Thought can adjust itself to any environment and shape itself according to various influences and demands. One must have noticed all this around you, and to find out whether time has a stop, which is a tremendously important question, because that stops one's evolution, as we know it, which is a process of time: gradual growth, gradual becoming, gradual fulfilment, gradual activity of desire - all that is part of the continuity of time.
So we are going to go into this question of authority, which we have done a little bit, of the mind, thought, the brain adjusting itself to all environment whatever it is, because it needs the brain needs security and therefore thought will adjust itself to Communism, to Catholicism, to whatever it is. And as long as there is a continuity, which is the movement of time as thought, that movement, however expressive, however capable, however technologically perfect, unless that movement comes to an end there is no creativeness, because if we continue the same pattern - not only the same pattern but in a different mode - there is a constant continuity. So that is the question. And is it possible - not consciously, because if you do something consciously, then it is part of the process of thought - to find out whether time has an end, not cultivated, not through the action of will, stop thought. Will is part of thought, will is part of desire, and when there is an action of will, then there is no ending of thought. Right.
So we are going to then find out what does it mean to die? Because that may be the absolute truth, that may be the ending of all time. Please, we are sharing this together, I am not taking a journey by myself. Is death something separate from living? Is death something totally opposite of existence? Is death the ending of all that one has built in oneself, that one has experienced, that one has observed, gone into? Does it all end? You understand my questions? Or is death not something separate, but part of living though we have separated it, put it far away from us because we are frightened of it, we never even talk about it? Or is it part of the whole movement of life? Is it part of suffering? Is it part of love? We are going to find all these things out.
First of all one has to consider what various religions and so-called people of ancient times have said about death. Because the modern generation doesn't talk about death. No books are written about it. Nobody says, 'Live properly in order to die properly'. Death is something to be avoided, something which you do not want even to look at. You may pass a cemetery or a crematorium and then you shut your eyes and would rather say, 'How ugly it all is', and move on.
So we are, if we are serious, we are going to look at it, we are going to face it, not avoid it, not speculate about it, not demand comfort, and no tears. The Asiatic world says - specially in India, which at one time exploded over the whole of Asia, as Greece exploded over the western world - said that there is an entity called the 'self', the ego, the 'me', that gathers experience through life after life, which is called reincarnation, goes through life after life, perfecting itself and ultimately arrives at the highest principle which is Brahman. Call it by different names - that is their whole concept. And people, specially in the Asiatic world, believe that most intensely. They said they have proof that you exist, that what you are now is the result of your past and that your future as an entity depends on how you behave now, what your actions are now, because that will determine what you will be. Though the believers say this but they don't act, they just believe which is a very comforting, nonsensical, meaningless thing.
And you have in the western world also a concept of that kind. The whole the Christian belief that you must be buried and ultimately Gabriel blows a trumpet and you go to heaven. You know all that business. And the ancient Egyptians - from what one has been told, and one has been told accurately by professionals that they believed in this reincarnation. It is a very old concept, it is a very old belief which gave man a great comfort, because he said, 'After all I live only eighty, forty, fifty years and accumulate so much - and what is the point of it all, if I don't continue?' We want to find out what is the truth of this. Not a speculative, imaginative acceptance of a tradition - tradition being that which is handed over from generation to generation, and also that word means 'betrayal', betraying the present by the past. So we are going to find out. Please, don't accept at all what the speaker is saying under any circumstances, because you are very easily influenced - because it is your life.
Before we go into that, we must also understand very deeply, not verbally, that you are the world and the world is you. Not an idea, but deep understanding of it, the truth of it. What you are in essence, deeply, the world is. You are like the rest of the world, you have your problems, your suffering, your tears, your pleasures, your fears, anxieties - all that is like anybody else, whether he lives in China, Japan, in Russia or in America. Basically you are that. You are the world. And at the peripheral existence you are conditioned. And according to that conditioning, your temperament is, your idiosyncrasies are, the way you behave - all conditioned by the culture in which you live on the circumference, on the outside, at the peripheral level - but basically you are like the rest of the world. Right? Please this is something you have got to understand. Therefore you are not different from somebody who is greedy, envious, accepting authority, afraid, competitive, violent. That is the world and you are part of that.
So, what is death? There is old age, disease, accident, poisoning, various forms of physical destruction of the organism. That is a fact. I don't think one is afraid of that. One accepts it, doesn't one? As you grow older, as you may have an accident, you walk across a road and a bus strikes you, or a car, and that is the end - disease. One accepts, if one is at all rational, sane, that the organism comes to an end naturally or unnaturally. That doesn't cause so much fear. What causes fear, it seems, is that the ego, the 'me', that has acquired so much, that has lived such a strenuous life, that has accumulated knowledge, that has accumulated all kinds of movement - it has accumulated and there is the ending of all that. It is that one is afraid of, if one observes that.
So what is the 'me' that clings to what is the known? You understand? The unknown is the death and I cling to the known. The 'me' says, 'I know, I have lived, I have acquired, I have experienced, I have suffered enormously, I have been through all kinds of delights'. And that 'me' is resisting, frightened, avoiding this thing called death. Right? This is so. Please, we are going together, I am not dragging you like the train! Oh, that's the rain.
So one has to go, enquire - not 'go' - enquire, investigate, what is the 'me'? Is it the result of thought? Is it put together by the movement of time? Is it the result Does it exist by itself, apart from thought?
(Sound of rain) What a climate this is!
First of all, does it have a life of its own, independent of thought? Or has thought put it together and that self thinks it is independent of thought? You understand the question? Do we understand the question? Thought, we said, is the movement of time. Thought, in the world of reality, thought separates itself from that which it has put together. Thought has built this, but that has become independent of thought. The mountain or the tree is not put together by thought, but it is independent of thought. And thought has built the 'me', obviously. And the 'me' has separated itself from the thought, from the thought which has built me.
Now why does thought what is the reason of building the structure called the 'me'? Why has thought done this? You are following all this? Please, move with me, don't go to sleep because this is really an extraordinarily important question, all this, because it is our life. We have to take this, desperately serious. Why has thought created the 'me'? If you see the fact that thought has built the 'me', if you say the 'me' is something divine, something that existed before all time - which many do - we have to investigate that too.
So first we are asking, why has thought created the 'me' - why? I don't know, I am going to find out. Why do you think thought has created the 'me'?
There are two things, aren't they? One is, thought demands stability, because it is only where there is security there can be a satisfying answer to the brain. That is, where there is security the brain operates marvellously, either neurotically or reasonably. So one of the reasons is that thought, being insecure in itself, fragment in itself, broken up in itself, has created the 'me' as something permanent; the 'me' which has become separate from thought and therefore thought recognises it as something permanent. And this permanency is identified through attachment: my house, my character, my wish, my desire, all that gives complete sense of security and continuity to the 'me'. Isn't that so? We are investigating. You are not silent, just listening to me, you are going into it with the speaker. And the idea that the 'me' is something before thought - is that so? And who can ever say that it existed before thought? You understand my question? If you say it existed before thought - see the point of it - if you say it existed before thought - as many do - then on what reason, on what basis do you assert that? Is it an assertion of tradition, of belief, of not wanting to recognise that the 'me' is a product of thought, but something marvellously divine? - which again is a projection of thought that the 'me' is permanent.
So, one observes, putting away the idea that the 'me' is everlastingly divine, or everlastingly timeless or whatever it is - that is too absurd - but one can see very clearly that thought has built the 'me'. The 'me' that has become independent, the 'me' that has acquired knowledge, the 'me' that is the observer, the 'me' which is the past. The 'me' which is the past, passes through the present, modifies itself as the future, it is still the 'me', put together by thought and that 'me' has become independent of thought. Right? Shall we go on from there? Please, don't accept the description, not the words, but see the truth of this thing. As you see the fact of this microphone, see that thing. That 'me' has a name, a form. The 'me' has a label, called 'K' or 'John' and it has its form, it identifies with the body, with the face, with the whole business. So there is the identification of the 'me' with the name and with the form. With the form, that is the structure, and with the ideal which it wants to pursue, or the desire to change the 'me' into another form of 'me', with another name. So this is the 'me'. That 'me' is the product of time and therefore thought. That 'me' is the word. Remove the word, what is the 'me'?
So that 'me' suffers. The 'me', as the you, suffer. So the 'me' in suffering is you. The 'me' in its great anxiety is the great anxiety of the you - therefore you and I are common. That is the basic essence. Though you are taller, shorter, more clever, have a different temperament, different character - all that are the peripheral movement of culture, but deep down, basically, we are the same.
So that 'me' is moving in the stream of greed, in the stream of selfishness, in the stream of fear, anxiety and so on, which is the same as you in the stream. I wonder if you get this. Please, don't accept what I am saying, see the truth of it. That is: you are selfish and another is selfish, you are frightened, another is frightened - basically - you are aching, suffering, tears, greed, envy - that is the common lot of all human beings. That is the stream in which we are living in the present. Right? That is the stream in which we are caught - all of us. We are caught in the stream while we are living. Please see that: that we are caught in that stream as an act of life. That is, the stream is selfishness. Let's put it that way. That stream is in that stream we are living; the stream of selfishness. That word includes all the descriptions which we have just now given. And when we die, the organ dies but the selfish stream goes on. You understand? Just wait - look at it, take time, consider it. Suppose I have lived a very selfish life: that is, self-centred activity: my desires, the importance of my desires, the ambitions, the greed, the envy, the accumulation of property, accumulation of knowledge, accumulation of all kinds of things we have gathered - which I have termed as 'selfishness'. And that is the thing I live in. That is the 'me'. And that is the you also. In our relationship it is the same.
So while living, we are together flowing in the stream of selfishness. Got it? This is a fact, not my opinion, not my conclusion. If you observe it, you see it. Whether you go to America, you see the same phenomena, in India, all over Europe, modified by the environmental pressures and so on and so on - but basically that is the movement. And when the body dies, that movement goes on. So there is this vast stream of selfishness - if I may use that word to include all the things that is implied in that word - is the movement of time, and when the body dies that goes on. Go slowly in this. I am going to go into this a little more.
And I die; my wife, tearful, upset, lonely, missing the companionship, having no money - you follow? - is suffering, still like the rest of the world. And she goes to a medium, seance, because she wants to get into touch with me, because she is lonely, unhappy, suffering, no money - all that. And the medium there gets into contact with what it calls the 'me', the husband, and says, 'Your husband is here, he has a message for you. He says he is perfectly happy. Look under the drawer and you will find the testament'. This phenomena is repeated differently in different ways all over the world. Either it is the medium picking up the intimation, unconscious intimations of the wife and repeating it - one can do that very simply if you have observed that there is such thing as transmission of thought; you must have played with it, you must know it, it has its own reality - or, out of that stream of selfishness the thought of K still exists and the thought manifests. So there it is.
We live in that stream in our daily life till we die, and when we die that stream continues. Just a minute. That stream is time. Time. That is the movement of thought which has created suffering, which has created the 'me', which the 'me' has now asserted itself, being independent and divides itself from you, but the 'me' is the same as you when it suffers. So the 'me' is the word, or... the me is the word. The 'me' is the imagined structure of thought. In itself it has no reality. It is what thought has made it, because thought needs security, certainty. So it has invested in the 'me' all its certainty. And in that there is suffering and all the rest of it. In that movement of selfishness, while we are living we are being carried in that stream. When I die, that stream exists.
Is it possible for that stream to end? You understand? I die physically, that is obvious. My wife may cry about it, but the fact is I die, the body dies. And this movement of time is going on, of which we are all part. That is why the world is me and 'me' is the world. And will there be an end to this stream? And is the manifestation of that ending of the stream, is it the manifestation of something totally different from the stream? I wonder if you follow all this? Are you interested in all this? Which is: can selfishness with all its decorations, with all its subtleties, come totally to an end? And the ending is the ending of time, and therefore there is totally different manifestation of that ending - which is no selfishness at all. I wonder if you you have understood this a little bit?
You see there are several things involved in this: in that stream, is there a 'you' and 'me'? You understand? When there is suffering, is there a 'you' and 'me' - or is there only suffering? I identify myself as the 'me' in that suffering which is the process of thought. But the actual fact is you suffer and I suffer, not me suffer something independent of you who are suffering. I wonder if you see that. So there is only suffering: not I suffer and you suffer. You suffer because your I suffer - better keep to myself - I suffer because my son, my wife, my husband, my neighbour, my relative is dead. I suffer because my wife has turned away from me. I suffer because there is loneliness. I suffer because I can't fulfil, I can't get everything I want - I want position, power, money, sex - in that order - and I suffer. Don't you also suffer in the same way? So the suffering is the same as 'me'. It is not, 'I suffer something separate from you'. You understand sir? That is a tremendous thing to find out.
So there is no individual suffering. There is individual blindness - but that is a physical phenomenon. But the suffering is the same as you and me. Therefore there is only the factor of suffering. Do you know what it does when you realise that? Out of that non-personalised suffering, non-identified as the 'me' who is suffering separate from you - when there is that suffering - out of that comes tremendous sense of compassion. I wonder if you see that.
The very word 'suffering' comes from the word 'passion'. So I have got this problem now: living, there is selfishness - dying, there is selfishness. And that is the stream of time as a movement of thought. And that stream of selfishness can manifest itself, which is happening all the time. That manifestation of that selfishness may have a name - as 'John Smith', 'K' and somebody else. But if there is no name - you understand? - if there is no naming of that suffering as belonging to me - what is then the individual at all? You follow? I wonder if you see this thing. I suffer there is suffering and that suffering has been given a name and a form as 'K' - 'K' is me - has been given a name and a form. And that name and form becomes the individual, separate from the stream of suffering. And that individual says, 'I am different from you'. I am cleverer, I am duller or you are more clever or this and that. If there is no naming as the form, no naming the form, then is there an individual at all? I wonder if you see. This is too The word individual means 'indivisible' - a human being who is not fragmented, indivisible in himself. That he is the whole - whole being healthy, sane, rational, holy. And when death takes place when there is living, is there an ending of time as movement of thought and suffering - now? You follow the question? Can I as a human being, living, knowing in that stream I exist as selfishness, can that stream, can that movement of time come totally to an end? Both at the conscious as well as the deep level? You understand my question, after describing all this?
Now how will you find out? How will you find out whether you, who are caught in the stream of selfishness, can completely step out of it? Which is the ending of time. And therefore death is the ending of time as a movement of thought, if there is this stepping out of that. Can you, living in this world with all the beastliness of it, the world that man has made, which thought has made - the dictatorship, the totalitarian authority, the destruction of human minds, destruction of the earth, the animals - everything he touches he destroys, including his wife and husband - now can you live in this world completely without time? That means no longer caught in that stream of selfishness. Can you?
Now who is going to tell you whether you can or cannot? You understand? Or will you take time? You understand? If you take time, you are still in there, still in the stream. So the whole idea of gradual change, gradual evolution, gradual process, is still the continuity of suffering, continuity of selfishness. I wonder if you see. So do you actually see this? See in the sense clearly as you see the speaker sitting on the platform.
See there are many more things involved in this which we haven't time to go into. Because there is such thing as great mystery - not the thing invented by thought - that is not mysterious. The occult is not mysterious, which everybody is chasing now, that's the fashion. The experiences which drugs give is not mysterious. This thing called death and seeing all this, the description and much more involved in it, and the mystery that lies when there is a possibility of stepping out of it.
Which is: as long as one lives in the world of reality - which we do - can there be the ending of suffering in that world of reality? Wait, wait, wait. Think about it. Look at it, look at it! Don't say, yes or no. If I don't if there is no ending of suffering in the world of reality, which is order, if there is no ending of suffering, which is selfishness - please, I will use the word 'selfishness' - if there is no ending of selfishness in the world of reality - it is selfishness that creates disorder in the world of reality - if there is no ending to that, then you have not understood or grasped the full significance of ending time. Therefore you have to bring order in the world of reality. That is, in the world of relationship, in the world of action, in the world of rational thinking and irrational thinking - the fear, pleasure - all that is in the world of reality. So can you can one living in the world of reality as we are, end selfishness? You know it is a very complex thing ending selfishness, it is not just, 'I won't think about myself'. It is a very complex thing and very subtle. One may think one is not selfish, but deeply there is this root of it which shows itself in its peculiar ways. So to be enormously aware of all that. That means being sensitive. You cannot be sensitive if you drink, if you take drugs, smoke - obviously. Or you cannot learn by going to college how to be sensitive. You cannot learn how to be sensitive from another. You have to be aware of one's insensitivity.
One is aware of one's One is sensitive to one's desires, to one's hurts, to one's demands, but we are talking of being sensitive totally - both physiologically as well as psychologically. That means one has to have an excellent body, not drugged body by alcohol or overeating and all the rest of it. So one has to be aware of this selfishness in the field of reality, because this selfishness in the field of reality is creating chaos. And you are the world and the world is you. If you change deeply you affect the whole consciousness of man.
Is that enough for this morning? I think so.